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Discrimination Against Recovering Addicts ~By The Doctors Who Prescribed Them The Drugs In The First Place

May 27, 2013


It seems like the minute you say, “I cannot take that doctor, I’m a recovering addict,” their whole deminor changes.  Their pen drops, they let out a sign, they look at you in a disappointed glance over the top of their reading glasses and have judged you before they hear anything else.  Now, you are just another opiate junkie, they no nothing about you, your fight for your life or addiction in general.  I have been through this so many times and they doctors are the ones who prescribe the opiates in the first place then they turn their back on you and shove you off to someone else when you tell them you are an addict.  They don’t want to deal with you anymore.

I have especially been experiencing the majority of discrimination when I tell a doctor I am on methadone.  A surgeon told me I was not recovering because I was on methadone.  He was sarcastic, condescending and rude.  Another doctor was supposed to order tests on my heart because I had suffered a mild heart attack over the winter.  The nurse took my blood pressure, my weight and asked me about what meds I was on.  I told her I was a recovering addict on methadone.  The doctor came in with the chart and was reading it.  He looked at me, I  was terrified because I did not know I had had a heard attack at that time, I was scared.  He said, ” Why are you here? If you think I’m going to prescribe you methadone or any other narcotics you’re out of your mind,” I was so shocked, upset, and I began to cry as I tried to spit out, “No, I’m on methadone at methadone maintenance in Buffalo, I have been having chest pains, I was referred here,” he walked out of the room and sent the nurse in to hook me up to a machine, I was so panicked by then I had no idea what was going on.  She read the results of the EKG machine and called the doctor in, he looked at me and he looked annoyed, like I was doing something wrong.  He told the nurse to send me across the street to the hospital immediately that there were abnormalities in my test results.  By then I was in a full panic and fled the office.  Later after two or three phone calls from their office I answered and agreed to get more testing two days later.  I had a heart attack and there was some damage.  I am terrified to go back to that doctor but I have to in order to get referred out to another doctor.  I passed out last week after I raised my voice and yelled at my teenage daughter.  I know I need to see the doctor but he was so awful to me.  I’m worried that I will not receive fair treatment because now all he thinks is I’m looking for a script of narcotics.

I have heard the same thing from other recovering opiate addicts.  It also makes it difficult when they try to write you a script and you have to say no to it, they get mad at you! The system is flawed.  Addicts cannot receive fair treatment, we are treated like criminals, not patients and certainly not like we should be.  We are people with a disease, someone with heart disease or diabetes would not be treated this way.  It is outrageous.


From → Newsworthy, Recovery

  1. That is really horrible! I hope they looks past the addiction to the person in need of medical attention.


    • They don’t. They hear addict and that’s it, they don’t want to be bothered and refer you out to another doctor. Even if they keep you as a patient you certainly do not get the care you deserve, you’re just another junkie looking for a script. I have had to tell doctors that I couldn’t take a script of opiates and that I was a recovering addict and they immediately switch gears. They no longer see you for your reasons for coming in the first place, they only see the addiction. I can’t find a doctor that will treat me like a sick person instead of a criminal


  2. The system is flawed! People in general have a long way to go in understanding addiction issues. Even Doctors, & nurses fall short on this issue, & many other important issues that one would think, they of all people could be counted on to understand!.
    I am a retired nurse counselor at a methadone clinic for addicts of all kinds, & I do get it! I believe you are incredibly strong, & brave to use writing as one of your recovery tools! Your stories are interesting, & insightful. Keep up the good work!
    Medical professionals for the most part, have a long was to go before they are as informed as they think they are! They often have a superior attitude, that screams how high up they are in status, & what low creatures their patients are! Some of the younger Doctors seem to have a more modern approach to the care they give, & have more accurate information. If you have insurance, & the option, look for a younger Doctor, preferably a female. I find female Doctors have a better understanding of what we go through, & how we process issues.
    I love your energy, don’t give up on finding exactly what, & who you need in your life!


    • Thank you so much, it is really nice to hear from someone with experience in treating addicts with methadone. I have four discs blown out in my neck one in my middle back, two in my lower, scoliosis, picked nerves and my neck injury has been described as balancing a bowling ball on a toothpick because my neck is completely straight without any curve to it then there is a curve in my spine where there isn’t supposed to be one! Doctors said I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 35, that I shouldn’t even be able to walk, that was 6 years ago, I’m 36 years old now. I keep moving, I walk and I stay active so methadone not only treats my addiction but it also treat my pain. I’m terrified of surgery and I don’t feel that I should be discriminated against because I’m on methadone and I want alternatives to surgery or at least some time to think about it. The surgeon I just saw reported to the workman’s comp board that I refused surgery and he discharged me from care. He told me he didn’t want me cluttering up his office if I wouldn’t schedule the surgery. He wouldn’t even evaluate me after I was done with physical therapy which was not doing anything but he didn’t even give it a chance. I wouldn’t do business with him so he discharged me from care. I’m so frustrated, if you don’t get a script or get surgery then they don’t want to treat you if you are in recovery.


  3. I hear you. This stigma was why I refused for so long to “come out” to my doctors, because I knew Pandora’s Box could not be closed. But that made too much rom for a reservation in my recovery, so I had to tell them. Now I have to live with the unfairness—I switched general doctors and told the new one right away; told my dentist etc. BEFORE anything was wrong. Helped a little, but things will never be fair. I just have to squelch the self-pity when it builds up because it is so lethal for me.


  4. Brandon permalink

    My God my Dr just did this to me. I went to the emergency room after being sick for five days. I told them I was on methadone and when they heard this their only suggestion was leave and get medicated until they realized I was So sick I almost had a stroke. When I went to my family doctor he was the rudest he’s ever been and said I have a infection and I am going through opiate withdrawal and that I was not really sick because an addict can’t be in pain when you’re sick or ur drug seeking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just experienced it this morning as well. I have a new back injury and was questioned about my methadone program more then anything else. I have been seeing this doctor for a long time, it was the first time he made me feel like a junkie seeking meds and I wasn’t. He changed his tune when he saw my MRI’s but I didn’t need anything from him except a referral to a surgeon and psychical therapy.


  5. I am so very sorry this happened to you. I hear about similar things happening to people in recovery, using methadone maintenance, all the time. It’s so sad. Yes, doctors can be ignorant and bigoted, just like anyone else. And yes, if your doctor is treating you badly, feel free to fire your doctor and find one you can work with. Write them a bad review, tell the world EXACTLY why you fired them, for their bigoted, ignorant, heartless attitude, and find someone who really has the heart of a healer! And again, I’m so, so sorry this happened to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All addicts that admitt that there are addicts to a doctor are being onest see the hears that then are responsable for your cars right away automaticly then if need pain meds thats there call see if pain is there then they have to take good care of you and help regardless of pain control else were boston mass dosnot do that opps did i spell wrong understand what am saying in this paragraph wow school of knowledge controling substance abuise is good but outside we take blame and its on use when i walk through your door you have know laws in seattle to not monitour me you have treat me and no narcodic pascribtion sent with me home see point follow see when a nurse says go you go but bacause of the addiction you will always be disciminated pills dont fly so they assume they set you off but monitoring you in the hospital then helping come off ut befor go home is a safer way and protects the doctor set alimite to the point wonedring falls in place so know were pain is then help is there


    • Thankyou again today its happining again pain and i have pain meds that dont even feel like they even go through my system my liver is goid kniw heppitittic c or anything but i was asked but at hospital outpatient apointmenr i was positive then negitive foe viriual bacteria is the kind that can be kikked negitive to i wondering if eat somthing 1 year ago then eat again nit sure runny noise cabt walk 9n feet beat red feet sick throwing up gapentin realy kills pain not see how it works but the world is a mess medicaly over here more then ever seen concerned bad thankyou for repling to my comment i love job in resturant but under tge skin hives affected me bad so now resturants cant have me till they tell how to help that its so noticable on my feet sick to my stomach realy monitouring and excploring two insirances and oboma careover rides yoy to properly treat a patient donot listen to anything on data that says a ything about boston you tell them your addict right away tht helps but they beed to not push labs so quick five minutes thats bad realy doctor at virgina mason pleas spare me your medical degree needs to be lifted quickly boston mass dont even know you again its checked your going out that doie


  7. I have been in recovery and been pain management and stiil live with a contract sick i am bad and she cant brake my contract ha shes defenently not foll nolidge but fire thankyou very much looking and reading helps another i am awomeb who will get my annswer wether super nit so doc says love tou bethany cameron


  8. Thankyou again concerned still have to prove i can be around cgemicals my nouse hurts my ears red feet red hands bad


  9. Again i see realy methedone and opiate withdrawel realy methedone blocke oppits dont it hum am right


  10. Anonymous permalink

    That is awful, I am doing a project right now about discrimination. I choose discrimination against recovering addicts and while I was doing research I found you I hope you get better! Btw I’m only 11


  11. Anonymous permalink

    I a.m so sorry this happened to you! I have been discriminated against many times as well and it is disgusting for anyone whose job is to help people to treat us this way! If they are such intelligent doctors they would know the methodone blocks the high of the drug anyway! I thought discrimination was supposed to be illegal when it comes to MMT


  12. Anonymous permalink

    I know exactly how you feel. For 4 years, I suffered with gallbladder pain. The first stomach doctor I saw, I told him that I had a previous problem with pain medication – After I told him that, he just looked at me as if I were only there seeking drugs. I WAS THERE BECAUSE I WAS SUFFERING WITH HORRIBLE GALLBLADDER PAIN!!! I remember, it had been so bad, that I lost 50lbs, I was in and out of the ER because I couldn’t even drink water without violently vomiting from the pain in my stomach. I would stand in the shower, where the water was so hot it burnt my skin, just to take the focus away from how horrible the pain was. I went back to see my stomach doctor and told him what was going on; He sat there and didn’t say a word to me for the longest time. He basically told me the only reason I was in so much pain was because I was using pain medication; WHEN I WASN’T BECAUSE NO ONE WOULD PRESCRIBE ANYTHING TO ME! I was SO humiliated that I left crying my eyes out. Basically, nothing was ever done. I suffered in pain for months on end until things finally subsided. I continued to be in and out of the ER and most of the time I was there, they always blamed me for my pain. After about YEARS of suffering, it was so bad that I was CONSTANTLY in the ER. I remember one night it was so bad, I was balled up into pain, hadn’t ate for days or barely drank anything – I was laying on the hospital bed while a nurse was sticking me trying to get blood – I was so dehydrated that my blood wouldn’t come out. The nurse just kept repeating “You’v been using IV drugs. Your veins are bad.” I HAD NEVER SHOT UP ANYTHING IN MY LIFE. MY VEINS WERE BAD BECAUSE I HAD BEEN IN AND OUT OF THE ER SO MANY TIMES. The doctor was refusing to give me any pain medication until I was screaming in pain, crying, and begging for some help. All he could do was say I would be addicted to the drugs. They didn’t give a fuck about finding out what was wrong with me. After months of dealing with that, I begged them to admit me to the hospital, which they finally did. While I was in the hospital all the doctors did was say “The pain is in your head. You’re like this because you used drugs.” I had been smoking weed because that was literally the only way I could eat anything or drink anything. They were at the point of just forcing me to go home when me and my mother begged them to check my gallbladder. Come to find out, my gallbladder was only functioning at 4%. I can’t count how many times a doctor or nurse tried to accuse me of “This is just in your head. You’re here seeking drugs.” Even though I was violently vomiting every time I went into the ER and I was crying in pain – My blood pressure skyrocketing. I’ve just recently been very sick for the last 3 months, I always hate going to the doctor now when I’m in pain. They know that I have horrible stomach issues and they only want to prescribe me NSAIDs which are VERY HARSH on your stomach. I basically have to HOPE to GOD that I run into a doctor that treats me like a human being. I had been on suboxone treatment 2 years ago because I was scared of going through withdrawals. I have PTSD and can’t even get a doctor to give me any anxiety medicine. I lay awake at night, when my PTSD is at it’s worst, thinking someone is going to murder me. Yet, every doctor refuses to help me. I abused drugs because I have deep emotional scars, I’ve been working through them and haven’t had a problem in years. The main thing I ever did was smoke a lot of weed. Yet, that doesn’t matter to doctors. They treat me like a piece of shit and I’m getting SICK and TIRED OF IT!!


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